One of the easiest ways for small businesses to quickly gain a lot of website traffic is by marketing on social media networks like Facebook. Although this strategy plan is pretty easy to execute, there are some big mistakes that you have to avoid to be successful.
I've written this guide to give you social media marketing tips for small businesses and side hustles because I know how confusing it can be to get started. Since people talk on social media, all it takes is one big mistake to destroy your online reputation, so it is very important to approach this strategy the right way from day one.
Social Media Anti-Spam
The #1 tip that I can give you is non-negotiable - DO NOT SPAM. You must do this in order to succeed, especially long-term. Social media marketing does not involve running around and posting your link all over the place to get traffic. This is what spammers do. Social media sites don't like it, and the people on social media don't like it either.
Simply put, if you spam social media to market your small business, you will quickly gain a poor reputation online for your company. This is the opposite from what you want to achieve with social media.
Try to think about social media marketing like trying to feed a stray cat. Your ultimate goal is to get the cat to eat the food. However, if you run up to the cat quickly or try to throw the food at it, it will simply run away and not return. Social media and online marketing are like this because you can't just shove your end goal in someone's face and expect to do anything besides scare them off.
Social Marketing 101
No matter what you may be trying to sell online, your goal with social marketing is to build brand awareness and trust. Selling online is 90% trust in most situations. There are a lot of scammers online. Scammers throw food at cats all day long in the hopes that one is hungry and desperate enough to stick around to eat. As a business, you don't want to take that approach.
When you can separate yourself from the scammers and build trust among a group of people on social media, they'll be much more willing to buy from you. You're able to take away that fear of sending money to an anonymous person online. On top of that, when people trust what you tell them, they're much more likely to try a product that you're recommending for a specific situation.
In many cases, I try not to attempt direct sales on social media unless that is what my audience expects. I will set up a sales page on my own website and direct people to that page. This is especially true for affiliate marketing promotions. You do not want to put affiliate links on social media for any reason, but you can put them on your site and link to your site instead.
Build Your Social Media Audience
Your social media audience is your key to success. There are a lot of different ways and strategies you can use to build your audience. The exact method doesn't really matter though. What matters is once you have an audience, you need a way that you can contact all or a large number of them at once. People that follow you on a social network will get notifications when you make a post, for example.
Ultimately, if you can't contact your audience in large numbers quickly, you're not really building an effective audience that you can use in the future to get sales. On Facebook, for example, groups are a common place to try to market your business. If you join an existing group and make posts, you can potentially market your business that way. You may even build a following with that plan, but you won't truly have an easy way to contact the entire group. Running your own group can make this a bit easier since people are more likely to pay attention to admin notifications.
Building an audience isn't all about selling things. Talk to people. Interact with them. Find out about their problems and try to help solve them. Provide them really useful, free content to keep them following you long-term. Think about this from the perspective of your audience. If you only talk to them to sell them something, that is what people will expect from you. They'll be less likely to follow you long-term knowing that you will only try to sell them things instead of giving them something useful. When you're useful most of the time and occasionally try to sell something, they'll be more likely to pay attention to it.
Leverage Your Audience
Once you have an audience built on social media networks, you can leverage them to your advantage. If you've created something like a Facebook group that you control, you can sometimes do direct sales on social media. In all other cases, you should run sales on your own website instead and send traffic there.
Selling your own products and/or services are the most obvious ways to leverage an audience for sales to increase your income. However, there's more that you can do with them than that. Affiliate marketing gives you the opportunity to sell products or services for other companies. You don't have to fulfill sales or provide customer service, but you get a percentage of each sale as a commission. Some of the most successful affiliate marketers have their own audience to promote things to. This can even be combined with sales on your own goods to boost revenue.
Audiences can even be used to help you build an even larger audience. Running social media contests to give away free stuff in return for shares to bring in new members can be a really easy strategy. It can also be worthwhile to move your audience off of social media too. Set up an email newsletter on your own website and build it with your social media audience for a more effective way to contact them.
Long-Term Success Tips
One of the biggest downsides to marketing a small business on social media networks is stability. When you base your business on a third-party website like social media, you run the risk of losing everything you've created overnight. When you find success with social media marketing, the best tip I can give you is to try to move your audience off the social media website. That might sound odd, but it's how you protect yourself. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is asking for trouble.
Marketing your business on social media is a marathon, not a sprint. This strategy plan is not about landing a sale the first day you start. You may not even get a sale in your first week or even month. Your goal is to build something high-quality that will deliver long-term success, and that simply takes time to do it right.
It can be helpful to run some paid advertising early on to help you jump-start your social media presence. Once you have a small audience started, paid ads to send more traffic to boost that audience even more can really snowball the process. Social networks are much more likely to give you exposure if you're already popular, so those paid ads can help to kick off this scenario.